Martin Gardner Papers

December 31, 2013

Here at the Center for Inquiry Libraries, we are lucky enough to own some very interesting materials from famous skeptics, scientists, and scholars. One of the most important collections relating to both skepticism and the history of the skeptical movement are the papers of Martin Gardner.

As mentioned in my article in the tribute to Martin Gardner issue of the Skeptical Inquirer (Vol. 34 no. 5, September / October 2010), I was privileged to meet him when I went to select materials from his home and bring them back to Amherst for adding to our collection back in 2002.

Included in the collection are clippings, files and the raw data that were used to create the various books that he wrote on skepticism and skeptical topics. There are a few items on conjuring and magic tricks as well as some of his correspondences with those in the skeptical movement.

We were not able to acquire all his materials; Stanford University has his materials that relate to what they call his “recreational mathematics” and his Scientific American column. Some of the materials on conjuring and card tricks are part of the collection in Stanford, we have some here as well.

Richard Wiseman has been working for a long time on a magician’s mystery, discovering the true identity S.W. Erdnase, author of The Expert at the Card Table. I was hoping to discover some of Gardner’s notes on the subject, but our collection did not have much on the initial search I made a few years ago. Further in-depth research in the files here or at Stanford might yield some results as Gardner had done some research on the subject himself.

We were also able to acquire Gardner’s books that relate to our mission at CFI as well. Some of the titles might be part of another blog later.